The Q&A Archives: Rhubarb Wilting and Dying

Question: My rhubarb looked beautiful the first of April then in May began to wither and die. I put Miracle-Gro on them and they perked up but then went back to the withering and dying stage. I added more Miracle-Gro but it did no good. We have had a lot of hot wet weather this year. Any ideas?

Answer: It's difficult to say if the weather's at fault. Rhubarb should be planted in a spot that's shaded from hot afternoon sun, in deep, rich soil that's well-drained. The tops of the plants should be just at the soil line. New rhubarb should not be harvested until the second year. Once it's mature you can harvest stalks by pulling them from the plant. Continue harvesting until only slender stalks are left. If you cut the stalks off the plant, you'll leave a stub that's prone to decay and may encourage disease in the crown of the plant. You should remove the dying stalks and destroy them. If the roots are healthy they'll produce new leaves. If they've rotted because of soggy soil, no new leaves will be produced and the plants should be replaced.

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